BLOG ROUND-UP: Trump Administration’s cold water war with CA, Bruce Babbitt and CALFED Framework; Farmers, water allocations, and water taxes; Water bond lessons; and more …

Cactus Garden at the Getty Museum; Photo by Ian D. Keating

blog-round-up-previous-editionsTrump Administration’s Cold Water War With California Turns Hot:  Richard Frank writes, “When it comes to California water policy, the federal-state relationship has always been both strained and challenging.  That intergovernmental tension harkens back at least to the Reclamation Act of 1902.  In section 8 of this iconic federal statute that transformed the American West, Congress declared that the federal government “shall proceed in conformity with” state water rights law.  And, in its 1978 California v. United States decision, the U.S. Supreme Court expressly held that the federally-constructed and operated Central Valley Project (CVP) in California is subject to the water rights jurisdiction of (including permit conditions imposed by) California’s State Water Resources Control Board.  Finally, in the 1992 Central Valley Project Improvement Act, Congress underscored the California v. United States precedent regarding state water rights primacy over federal CVP water rights when it legislated environmentally-friendly reforms to the CVP’s operations. … ”  Read more from the Legal Planet here:  Trump Administration’s Cold Water War With California Turns Hot

Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the CALFED Framework for the Delta:  Deirdre Des Jardins writes, “Former Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt has called for creation of a “Bay-Delta Compact,” which he describes as a stakeholder drafted framework for action on the Bay Delta.   It is worth looking at how the CALFED agreement which Babbitt helped negotiate in the 1990s fell apart.  The major components of CALFED included Ecosystem Restoration,Water Quality, Water Supply Reliability, and Levee Integrity.  The components of the CALFED “comprehensive package” were negotiated with stakeholders, including environmental, fishing, and Delta groups. ... ”  Read more from the CA Water Research blog here:  Secretary Bruce Babbitt and the CALFED Framework for the Delta

Fishy Reasoning: For farmers, water is money. When you get a 55% water allocation like farmers in Westlands are getting, that’s equivalent to a 45% additional tax:Today is Tax Day in America. We support paying our taxes and doing our share for the common good. If you’re not a farmer you will pay your federal and state income tax in addition to all the other taxes we all pay like sales, gas, property, estate, alcohol, tobacco, hotel, capital gains, medicare, social security, garbage, sewer…and we could go on. And that’s not to mention all the taxes being considered by the California legislature…things like new tires, firearms, water, preion painkillers, lawyers and car batteries. If you’re a farmer you’re also getting taxed on your water. … ” Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here: Fishy Reasoning: For farmers, water is money. When you get a 55% water allocation like farmers in Westlands are getting, that’s equivalent to a 45% additional tax

Headwaters:  David J. Lewis writes, “I am standing where stream flow begins, in a nameless tributary of the Russian River to the east of Hopland, California. This particular spot and location has been a grazing livestock ranch, primarily sheep, going back more than 100 years. This is one of thousands of spots in the watershed where water comes to the surface, joins in a channel, and starts its path downstream.  Many of us have stood at a confluence of two rivers or an estuary where a watershed’s outfall meets an ocean. These locations are the stream’s or river’s end, their terminus. Where I am standing now is instead the headwaters of the stream system, where water is initially released and visible as a thin, shallow, bouncing band. … ”  Read more from The Confluence blog here: Headwaters

Percolated to the Ocean: When you get water that could be used to percolate into the underground supply and don’t use it, it’s a crime.  Families Protecting the Valley write, “Everyone, even environmentalists, believe in groundwater banking.  We’ve been told we don’t need above-ground storage or dams because we should replenish the underground.  But when you get water that could be used to percolate into the underground supply and don’t use it, it’s a crime. This week the San Joaquin River Restoration Program announced the release of restoration flows.  Restoration flows “are dedicated for preservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources pursuant to Water Code section 1707 and are protected under the California Water Code.” … ”  Continue reading at Families Protecting the Valley here:  Percolated to the Ocean: When you get water that could be used to percolate into the underground supply and don’t use it, it’s a crime.

When do water bonds pass? Lessons from past elections: Cassidy Craford and Hannah Safford write, “Californians cite drought and water-supply challenges as some of the most important environmental issues facing the state today. A whopping 85% of California voters agree that water supply is a “big problem” or “somewhat of a problem” in their region. Population growth, dated infrastructure, and climate change are combining to strain water systems statewide.  The California legislature has long sought to mitigate water stress by passing water bonds that compensate for gaps in water-related funding. Such bonds were relatively modest throughout most of the 20th century rarely exceeding $2 billion (in 2018 dollars) in any given year. ... ”  Read more from the California Water Blog here:  When do water bonds pass? Lessons from past elections

Deep Adaptation: Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead:  On the Public Record writes, “I re-read World War Z over the weekend, which felt more like a soothing fairy tale about people doing extraordinary things to combat a visible menace that couldn’t be denied or ignored.  So addressable! Such a functional response!  … ”  Continue reading at On the Public Record here:  Deep Adaptation: Our Non-Linear World and Looking Ahead  See also: This is a hard and stupid project.

States are turning to data and interactive maps to help residents confront and manage flood risks: Shannon Cunniff writes, “2019 has been an unprecedented year for flooding, even before the start of hurricane season. Despite the number of devastating hurricanes in recent years, a new University of Notre Dame study published in Climatic Change found that most coastal residents do not plan to take preventative action to reduce damages.  In addition to speeding up the recovery process, taking action before disaster strikes can help homeowners reduce damages, save money and even lives. For riverine floods, every dollar spent before a disaster saves $7 in property loss, business interruption and death. … ”  Read more from the Growing Returns blog here: States are turning to data and interactive maps to help residents confront and manage flood risks

NCWA Member River Garden Farms Testifies in Support of Bill to Create New Environmental Farming Incentive Program: The NorCal Water Association blog writes, “On March 19, Roger Cornwell, General Manager of River Garden Farms, testified before the California State Senate Agriculture Committee in support of Senate Bill 253.  SB 253 is authored by Senator Bill Dodd (Napa), whose district includes portions of the Sacramento Valley.  NCWA supports SB 253, which will create a framework for the California Department of Food and Agriculture to provide voluntary incentives and technical assistance for farmers to adopt practices that help wildlife and the environment through a new Environmental Farming Incentive Program. … ”  Read more from the NorCal Water Association Blog here:  NCWA Member River Garden Farms Testifies in Support of Bill to Create New Environmental Farming Incentive Program

Three building blocks to water resilience for the Colorado River and beyond: David Festa writes, “One of the nation’s most important water agreements in recent history – the Colorado River Drought Contingency Plan – just crossed its last major milestone: winning bipartisan approval in Congress.  The driving force behind the water conservation plan is a nearly two-decade drought that has caused Lake Mead, a reservoir outside of Las Vegas, to fall to its lowest level ever. The drought plan outlines how Arizona, California and Nevada – the three states that rely on Lake Mead – will share cuts to avoid a crisis. ... ”  Read more from EDF’s Growing Returns blog here:  Three building blocks to water resilience for the Colorado River and beyond

David Bernhardt Takes Over as New Interior Secretary: The NRDC blog writes, “In bad news for our wilderness, wildlife, and climate, the Senate confirmed David Bernhardt as the new secretary of the U.S. Department of the Interior with a vote of 56 to 41. “Bernhardt is far too conflicted to lead this agency, given his track record of advocating for oil and gas, mining, agribusiness interests, and other polluters,” said John Bowman, managing director of government affairs at NRDC.  Bernhardt, who served as the agency’s acting secretary since the scandal-ridden resignation of Ryan Zinke, quickly picked up where his predecessor’s pro-polluter agenda left off. “Bernhardt has made no secret of his mission to attack our lands, wildlife and waters,” Bowman said. … ”  Read more from the NRDC blog here:  David Bernhardt Takes Over as New Interior Secretary

Bernhardt Hysteria!  God forbid someone not from the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Environmental Defense Fund gets appointed to head the Dept. of the Interior.  “Crime:  Lobbyist for farmers to get more water for California’s Central Valley and believes changes are needed in the Endangered Species Act.  Punishment:  Not fit for public service.  Should not be confirmed to head the Dept. of the Interior.  God forbid someone not from the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Environmental Defense Fund gets appointed to head the Dept. of the Interior.  Environmental groups are putting on the full court press to try to derail the appointment of David Bernhardt as Secretary of the Department. … ”  Read more from Families Protecting the Valley here: Bernhardt Hysteria!  God forbid someone not from the Natural Resources Defense Council or the Environmental Defense Fund gets appointed to head the Dept. of the Interior.

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About the Blog Round-up: The Blog Round-up is a weekly journey through the wild and varied tapestry of blog commentary, incorporating the good, the bad, the ugly, and sometimes just plain bizarre viewpoints existing on the internet. Viewpoints expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily my own; inclusion of items here does not imply my endorsement of their positions. Items are chosen to express a wide range of viewpoints, and are added at the editor’s discretion. While posts with obvious factual errors are excluded, please note that no attempt is made on my part to verify or fact check the information bloggers present, so caveat emptor – let the buyer beware.

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